Samuel Valiente, La nueva carne
Samuel Valiente lives in Barcelona, where he divides his time between copywriting for a digital agency and editing La nueva carne, the magazine addressing our digital future.
We reviewed issue two of the magazine earlier this year, describing it as, ‘a richly visual magazine that uses multiple styles of photography and both digital and analogue illustration to highlight the accessible nature of the writing.’ Today we hear from Samuel about his working week and plans for issue three of the magazine.
What are you up to this Monday morning?
This morning I’ll try to magically split my time between my editing and copywriting duties. We are in a peak moment with La nueva carne, because the third issue is supposed to be out in September, so there’s a lot to do.
Now I’m at home but later I’m going to take my second Pfizer vaccine (yes, we are really late in Spain) and then I’ll take the opportunity to go to the office. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to Núria (Pujol), our great Art Director but probably the busiest person in the world, so we can manage some pending issues.
Describe your desk and your work space
Well, right now I’m at home and, frankly, it’s a mess. In front of me, my girlfriend is taking an online Adobe Premiere course. There’s headphones, mouses, a wacom and lots of mugs on the table. We have a powerful fan here but this heat wave in Barcelona is winning the battle.
Sometimes I take my Mac out to my little terrace, to get some air. The views are not bad: I live in an attic in the Sants neighbourhood and I have great views of it (in clear days, which today is not, I can see Tibidabo and Montjuic mountains). The unmistakable sound of Slack’s messages is our soundtrack this morning.
Are you feeling optimistic about the future?
Short answer: no. Long answer: no, but since I know I’m not an optimistic person, I simply don’t trust myself so much regarding to future scenarios. And this makes me kind of an optimistic person, I guess.
No, seriously, I’m really concerned about the future of the human condition since digital revolution, which is the principal subject that La nueva carne addresses. That’s why we like to tackle such major concepts as beauty, faith, freedom or justice from a post-digital perspective. We don’t simply buy technological progress as a necessarily good thing (but of course neither as a ‘bad’ thing). We are not the usual future-focused magazine, we are not specially fans of transhumanism, cyberpunk aesthetics or Elon Musk’s vibes. And that’s what, I think, makes us different, both in a visual and journalistic way.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Well, I’m not sure it was a magazine, but it was a great editorial content for a kid like me. It was a dinosaurs weekly publication, called simply ‘Dinosaurios’. It was like a drug for me: I remember going every week to the kiosk to get my dose, and I dreamed of the day I’d get the chance to edit something like that. I have to say that it was not the usual neurone-accelerating product for kids: it was surprisingly accurate and respectful with facts and science.
And its illustrations were amazing, I really enjoyed them and hanged some of them in my room. In those times I could be literally 10 minutes reciting dinosaur names. Yes, I was unexpectedly more of a dinosaur than a robot kind of kid. And yes, I was a weirdo.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Perdiz is probably the magazine that inspires me the most. I collaborated with them a few times and I know personally its editor, Marta Puigdemasa. She even helped us to shape La nueva carne in the earliest moments.
The concept, the art direction… it’s a really unique and elegant magazine and she (and Querida, the design studio behind its art direction) worked hard to keep it growing and evolving over time. When I have an editing doubt I always thing: what would Marta do?
Describe La Nueva Carne in three words.
Aware, miscellanious, deep.
Why did a digital agency decide to produce a print magazine?
Luis Conde is one of the founders of digital agency Fuego Camina Conmigo. We’ve been working together for more than six years and he’s always been into paper magazines (our office is full of Monocle, Kinfolk and Apartamento issues).
The idea of editing a paper magazine has always been on the table and, finally, in 2019, he invited me to lead the project. The only conditions to make it connect with the agency philosophy were: to be human-centred, to talk about the digital age and to be on paper. The format was not by chance: we wanted to take internet out of the screens, so we could analyse it in a more quiet and serene mood. And obviously it also responds to Luis and myself’s passion for printed independent mags.
The first issue of the magazine (above) was in Spanish only; now you publish in English too. Talk us through the decision to add English.
We’ve always wanted to be an international publication. Actually, the first issue was both in Spanish and English (principally in Spanish with translations at the end of each article), but we decided to publish two different versions because it wasn’t working abroad.
Now, with the fully English version, we have more stockists around the world and things are getting better (although Covid crisis is not helping). But we’ll keep the Spanish version because it was very well received here and we want to be loyal to our local readers, despite the expense involved.
The theme ‘Beauty’ is very well examined in text for issue two, but it's the imagery that really stands out. Any tips for publishers on achieving this standard of illustration?
(Here Núria Pujol, our Art Director, above, takes the mic)
The key is probably that in most of the cases we don’t follow a linear process. We work in both text and images at the same time. This means that in some cases we are looking for ways to illustrate a topic without knowing how the author will approach it, so the imagery we found or develop is not just illustrating the words but rather a new layer that add some value on the subject.
We also try not to be too obvious with the selected images. We are approaching topics that could be easily represented by futuristic aesthetics and digital imaginary all the time, so the challenge is to find new and disruptive ways to illustrate every article. Of course there are articles where the digital has to be present, but we try to defy this approach as much as possible.
What comes next for La Nueva Carne?
Our next issue is coming out in September. It will be dedicated to the concept of Faith, and it’s being a real challenge. We don’t use to think about faith, or we do in a simpler way. Here we are trying to somehow update the concept (or digitalise it), with some really interesting results. I have to say that the process of finishing a number is really immersive. It’s very exciting but also mentally exhausting, and once the issue is launched I feel a weird emptiness that can only be filled by thinking in the next issue (and getting excited about it).
What will be your highlight of the coming week?
My mother turns 61 so I’ll go visit her and do whatever Covid restrictions let us do. Last year we couldn’t celebrate properly her 60th anniversary, so this year we’ll try to compensate it (although parties and crowds are still discarded). She’s turning 61.
When I turn that age we’ll be in 2046 and maybe an AI will have taken over and we’ll all have brain implants with augmented reality and everything will be crazy. Or maybe not, who knows?